Hamster Care

Hamsters are great pets. While they”re relatively easy to care for, they still require care. Like all pets, hamsters need food, shelter and some quality time with you.

Hamster Housing

You have two choices here: a wire cage or an aquarium. If you choose the wire cage, make sure that the bars are close enough together so that your hamster can”t squeeze through. If you choose an aquarium, a ten-gallon tank is usually large enough. Keep the top covered, though, or else your hamster may escape. A mesh screen works well because it can cover the top and provide proper ventilation. The colorful plastic rodent homes are not a good idea. They provide easy escape routes for your hamster, are amazingly difficult to clean and hamsters can easily chew through plastic.

Line the bottom with white paper or some sort of bedding material (such as unscented pellets) for your hamster. Avoid cedar shavings as they cause respiratory problems in hamsters.

Keep your hamster”s living quarters in a dimly lit area. Hamsters normally live underground, where it”s darker. Try to mimic those conditions so that your hamster feels more at home.

The Single Life

Hamsters may love you and love spending time with you, but they”re not so keen on spending time or sharing living quarters with their own kind. Hamsters are solitary creatures. If you own more than one hamster, they”ll need separate living quarters. The only times hamsters ever interact with one another is to fight or to mate.

Eating and Drinking

Your hamster has a metabolism that people can only dream about. Of course such a high metabolism requires a constant supply of energy. Your hamster should always have access to food and water. Water bottles with a metal sipping tube attached to the side of the cage or aquarium are perfect. Just be sure to clean and fill it daily.

Hamsters enjoy eating a mix of grains and seeds. Supplement their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, but stay away from apple seeds, raw beans, parsley and green tomatoes (well, at least the green parts of a tomato), as they are poisonous to hamsters.

Some hamsters prefer to sit in their food dish while eating. If that”s the case, get a dish large enough to accommodate your hamster, yet heavy enough that he won”t tip it over. A crock-style bowl works well.

Also, try to keep the food and water away from the hamster”s chosen bathroom space.

Whiling Away the Days

Exercise wheels are very popular accessories for hamster owners. They give your hamster much needed exercise and the ability to entertain himself when you”re not around to play. Be aware, though, that some hamsters don”t know when to stop running. This may lead to exhaustion, dehydration and eventually death. A good rule of thumb is to put the wheel in the aquarium (or cage) when you”re away, but take it out when you”re home or sleeping. That way, your hamster won”t overindulge and you can get a good night”s rest.

Hamsters also need something to chew on. Untreated cardboard boxes or toilet paper rolls make great places to hide and offer your hamster something safe to chew on.